Full disclosure: I have an iPhone 4 and I love it. Moving on…
The new iPhone’s sales have been very impressive, but the release has not been drama-free. First, the pre-order systems on AT&T’s and Apple’s websites, well, broke. And there have been the now infamous Steve Jobs emails floating around:
“Just avoid holding it in that way.”
Although the iPhone 4 caused probably the most widespread coverage of hands affecting signal strength in mobile devices, this issue isn’t new. There are YouTube videos posted more than a year ago showing the exact same problem that the iPhone 4 has: signal strength dropping due to hand position.
The reason that this story is interesting from an online reputation management perspective is that Apple has, so far, written a blog post that said exactly what it needed to. I’ve included an excerpt below (emphasis mine):
To start with, gripping almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by 1 or more bars. This is true of iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, as well as many Droid, Nokia and RIM phones. But some users have reported that iPhone 4 can drop 4 or 5 bars when tightly held in a way which covers the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band. This is a far bigger drop than normal, and as a result some have accused the iPhone 4 of having a faulty antenna design.
Often with ORM, the best thing to do is to is nothing at all. In this case, Apple needed to respond, and they did so well. In the highlighted sentence, they were able to credibly blast their competitors’ products because they admitted fault within their own.
This is the part that most companies appear to overlook the importance of. A simple admission of a problem or mistake almost can make negative stories disappear more quickly than hoping it goes away by itself. Also, if you don’t give the audience a story, they’ll make up their own.